A few posts back, I was telling you about how I have my grandmother’s camphor chest and how it’s stuffed full of my mother’s (and grandmother’s) linen, lace tablecloths, doilies and so on. This old-world stuff was always a part of my life growing up – both of them had a penchant for fine things. My mother always talked about Marghab linen and would show me her collection. I would yawn as there were far more interesting things to me in life when I was a teenager.

There have been many opportunities for me over the years to chuck out all this stuff but, for some reason, I’ve always hesitated. So the camphor chest came with me to New Zealand and was in the paws of MAF for awhile (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry), whilst they sorted out whether any evil bugs had hitchhiked their way from Oz to NZ. Intrigued by my research into this Marghab business, I learnt that Marghab is Portuguese hand-stitched linen produced on the island of Madiera and that linen from 1934 to 1984 is highly prized. Apparently, this 50 year period is the height of production – 1933 was when the company was founded by Emile and Vera Way Marghab and around 1980 was when the company closed. You can get Chinese knock-offs now though.

I was wondering how my mother laid her hands on Marghab because she never travelled outside of Australia once she moved from NZ. More research revealed that Marghab linen was sold exclusively to only a few stores around the world and one of these was David Jones in Sydney. My mother and grandmother haunted DJs so that explains how she bought Marghab.

There is so much linen in the camphor chest that I’m not sure I recognise which ones are Marghab so another spot of research looking at photos of this Portuguese linen on the internet leads me to think I’ve spotted some of them. Along the way, I rediscovered a cocktail purse my mother said she used to take to nightclubs in the late 1930s/early 1940s. I took some quick iPhone shots but will maybe spruce up the linen and get better shots to compare to those I’ve seen on the internet.


My grandmother's camphor chest has always been a fond memory. It was in her home, then in my mother's and now mine. I would think it dates from the 1920s or 1930s but not sure.



Close-up of top of camphor chest - wonderful Chinese-inspired carvings.



From the photos I've seen on the internet, there was some marine-themed Marghab. This one is pink and white.



The bottom pink and white one looks to me like the Waterleaf pattern.



Marghab seemed to have a lot of birds and flowers - I think this could be Marghab with a butterfly, ribbon and small flowers.



Not sure about this one: can't find a similar photo on the internet.



My mum's evening bag from the late 1930s/early 1940s. It has gorgeous gold tassels.